R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books never stuck to a single type of horror, with stories like The Werewolf of Fever Swamp dishing up traditional scares while The Cuckoo Clock of Doom introduced many kids (e.g. me) to their first existential crisis. A single movie could never capture every mood of every book, and thankfully the studio didn’t attempt a Goosebumps Cinematic Universe. Instead, we get this self-aware mix of humour and family-friendly horror that celebrates the series rather than exploits it.
The plot’s blueprint can be mapped out from various other films. Stine’s monstrosities come to life and break loose on the unwitting public, a la Ghostbusters. It’s up to our teen leads to “catch ‘em all,” like Pokémon. But in order to do that, Jack Black’s fictional Stine has to go Stranger than Fiction. There are also plenty of crowd shots that’ll have fans cameo-spotting as with Wreck-It Ralph. While it’s not hard to identify these potential inspirations, Goosebumps pieces them together so satisfyingly, you can almost hear them click into place.
It’s all in service of delivering fun set pieces that make creature-features worth watching. There’s a zombie attack, a massive yeti, a werewolf in sneakers, a giant mantis, killer plants, deadly gnomes, aliens, clowns, and way more. The movie throws it all at the wall, and it’s surprising how much sticks thanks to a script that is wittier than expected, earning meaty laughs in particular with fictional Stine’s disdain for being labelled ‘an amateur Stephen King’.
Goosebumps is a great way to introduce modern kids to the charms of B-movie horrors – just like the books were. It’s enough to forgive the plot holes and the weird implication of the main romance. Though the same can’t be said for the stereotypical Nerdy McNerdson sidekick.
‘Goosebumps’ Movie Times | ‘Goosebumps 3D’ Movie Times
In For More (Safe) Scares? Watch: Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls